#iumienwomenmoversandshakers: Ashlee Saelee
What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?
Women are already superhero students, wives, and moms. When superhero women go on further to lead communities, departments, coalitions, chambers, and impact world systems, our ability to break boundaries can be even louder and stronger when we are supported by our children, our partners, our families, and our peers. The biggest barrier- is love; so shower women leaders with love and then watch them soar.
What is one event that helped shape your life?
The one event that helped shape my life was when I joined basketball in high school. I was never the athlete driven kid, but I was the kid that never rose my hand in class, the kid that was afraid to ask questions. Joining something I was not amazing at but enjoyed- at a scale that felt scary, pushed me out of my comfort zone. It challenged me to be more confident and more involved in school and group settings. I learned to praise effort, forgive losses, and work better with others. It was pivotal because I broke the fears that lived quietly within me.
What’s one of the toughest decisions you’ve had to make and how did it impact your life?
The toughest decision I had to make was the decision to take a break during college, and then the tougher decision- to go back and finish. I literally was on the 10 year plan. At 17, I had 2 jobs, living away from home, bills smiling at me and a school schedule that was not forgiving. I had to learn to be okay with taking the longer road, to set a path that worked for me, and to hold myself accountable to finish school. I owe a lot to my support system and that ultimately was, and is, my family and my husband. It is often easy to sketch a beautiful story, but the most intricate details can break you before they make you.
What is an accomplishment you are proud of?
I will always be proud of myself for finishing college. College for me, eventually became discouraging- I didn’t know if I could afford to keep going, my majors became impacted programs- classes were less available and more costly. Like many Mien students, I didn’t have the choice to just work part time or to just solely focus on school. My journey made my heart fuller and a whole lot tougher. Navigating college through the uncontrollables, taught me to be a better human for my family and my community.
If there was a young girl out there who wanted to do what you did, what would you tell her?
I would tell that young girl out there to be the fiercest version of herself and to be her own toughest critic. I’ve worked across different professions under different titles, but the common takeaway in each role, was that the more willing you are to understand the work of the lowest paying employee, the more effective you are in leading your team at the helm. I would tell her to be kind and to learn adaptability and build follow through. I’d tell her that her choice of words will ALWAYS matter; to be wise with words and be fiercer with her thoughts. The world complains a whole lot- so to always be willing, to be a “doer.” Make sh*t happen :) And some day, any day, to find a way to give back. Someone will benefit even if it’s just one.
How can people get a hold of you?